An honest workforce is essential for building a strong foundation for any business.
It comes as no surprise that companies go the extra mile to verify the credibility of the candidates before getting them on board. But even the best hiring practices and stringent background checks may not be enough to ensure that you have only the right people in your team.
Unscrupulous and dishonest people may still enter your workforce and cause harm to the organization.
They may engage in unlawful activities like fraud, embezzlement, or forgery against your business, or get into a criminal act outside. A criminal case may ensue, and your employee could face a lawsuit or be convicted.
In either situation, your business reputation may take a blow due to the action of an employee. So it becomes vital for companies to be prepared for dealing with such complicated situations.
Here is some valuable advice on handling a criminal case against your employee.
1. Get information about the criminal case
An employee facing allegations may not be willing to disclose the details to the employer. But you should start by gathering information about the case so that you can plan your strategy to steer clear of the implications.
The best place to get genuine information is from the concerned law enforcement agency. Ask about details, including the reason for the allegation, the date of filing, the potential charges against the accused, and the witnesses to the crime.
More importantly, find out whether your company is involved in the case and if it poses any danger to the company’s name and reputation.
Ask for copies of the key documents such as documents of arrest and charges. The agency may or may not provide them, but you must give it a shot.
2. Talk to the employee
Once you have the complete information from the agency, go ahead and talk with the concerned employee.
It may get complicated if the person has hidden facts about the allegation because they may not be willing to discuss the case. Still, you need to have an open discussion because a criminal lawsuit against an employee can be a threat to your business as well.
On the other hand, the accused person may not be guilty at all, and you need to give them a chance to narrate their side of the story. Start a discreet discussion and let the employee explain to ensure fairness.
Avoid a biased perspective because it can cloud your judgment. Carefully align the details and take your time to make your preliminary conclusions about the situation.
3. Consult a lawyer
Whether an accused employee is guilty or innocent, a criminal case against someone in your team is always a reason to worry. It could have legal implications for your business, so you need to cover yourself before things get serious.
According to expert lawyers at Dattan Criminal Law, the best way to handle such situations is by getting immediate legal consultation, and business owners should not take a chance. After all, you cannot make conclusions about the law because you don’t have the relevant knowledge and experience.
Look for a seasoned criminal attorney and share the information you have gathered from the employee and the concerned authority. Only an expert can explain the gravity of the case and the possible implications it may have on your brand.
Further, they will decide a plan of action on how to approach it and cover your business against possible legal complications.
4. Conduct an internal investigation
As an employer, you need to conduct an in-depth internal investigation of the event if the employee’s action involves the company. Even if the employee has personal charges against them and your business isn’t involved.
An investigation may provide evidence against the person or even aid their case if the charges are unfounded. Talk to their co-workers to get information about the behavior or even something relevant to the case.
Review the emails, phone history and logs, CCTV footage, and financial records of the employee as a part of the internal investigations.
Even as you conduct an internal investigation at your end, be willing to cooperate with the authorities if they need evidence. There is a possibility that you may find something about a malicious act about the suspect inside the company, which is unrelated to the case itself.
You can legally terminate the employee in such a situation, even before the court gives its verdict.
5. Consider a disciplinary action
Another vital aspect of dealing with a criminal case against your employee is determining disciplinary action against them.
You can consider a sanction, suspension, or even termination, depending on the gravity of the act. The action may be temporary till the case gets a verdict in court.
Take the decision about the disciplinary action only after careful thinking because the action can affect the reputation of your business. A fair and careful assessment of the information gets you on the right track.
Apart from taking disciplinary action against the accused employee, you also need to fortify your situation against the possible consequences.
It may be wise to release a statement clarifying the stance of the company on the matter. Before you take these actions, consult your attorney and get their opinion to ensure that your business stays on the right side of the law.
A criminal case against your employee may come out of the blue when you are least prepared for it, which can make it more challenging than you can imagine.
The situation is unusual but grave enough because it can bring legal hassles and reputational concerns for business, regardless of your involvement in the case. Consider getting legal guidance and having a strategy in place to deal with such situations even before you encounter them.
Also, make sure that your human resource department is extra conscious while recruiting people so that you have only the ones you can trust. A zero-tolerance approach towards guilty employees sends a clear message to others in the team and strengthens the company culture in the long run.
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